Game: Deadliest Catch: The Game
Genre: Simulation, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam (Windows & Linux), PS4 & Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: 4fishing | Ultimate Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US E 10+
Price: UK £22.49 | US $24.99 | EU € 24,99
Release Date: June 28th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Ultimate Games.
TV to Video Game
Before writing this review, I had never watched the Deadliest Catch. But after doing a little bit of online research, thanks to YouTube, I was able to learn this is a pretty exciting series about catching crabs under dangerous weather conditions.
It’s cleverly edited to deliver a high-octane and dramatic experience for the viewer. It’s not surprising it accumulated such a fan base over time, a fan base probably keen to play a video game version of the show. When it comes to the game, I didn’t really feel any of that excitement. This is another simulator-style title that has a lot of good ideas, but the cogs just don’t come together to make for an enjoyable experience.
You control the Captain of the ship and play the game from a first-person perspective. The game initially takes you through an extensive tutorial to teach you the ways of crab fishing. And believe me; there are a lot of steps to this. First, you’ll learn where the best place to fish for crab is, and then you will set sail to a specific location on the map. You’ll learn how to set up a crab pot, equip it with buoys and bait then dump it in the ocean. After enough time has passed or you speed up the in-game timer, you learn how to reclaim the pot and dump the crap on a sorting table. Sort the crabs from ones to keep for-profit and chuck back those unsuitable as well as keep any fish to convert to bait for later use. Then it’s back to the harbour to turn in a profit, hopefully. And that’s the very basic description.
Control the Ship
You’ll need to keep your fuel for the ship topped up and monitor repairs so the cranes all work smoothly. As the player, you have direct control of all of these processes. You can even control the ship from the deck. Of course, doing all of these steps is not ideal since time is money. You can hire crew members to carry out some of the tasks so you can focus on important Captain duties (sadly, one of them is not making coffee). You need to be careful, as so much can go wrong on what seems like a simple fishing trip. A storm can occur, which will damage your ship, and if you end up stranded, you will need to call another boat for help incurring a massive fine.
You also need to make sure to carry out all the steps carefully. Making simple mistakes like leaving the launcher elevated could lead to a crab pot going overboard without a buoy, and you lose it for good. I soon quickly forgot many of the game’s mechanics, but an extensive manual is available to help remind you. If you’re able to turn a profit, you can use the money to hire more crew, purchase more equipment and even upgrade your abilities in a skill tree. The overall goal of the game is simply to make as much money as possible.
No Plot as Such
There isn’t really a plot per see, but it’s not really necessary if you’re a fan of the show. Speaking of the show, if you watch it, you will be very familiar with the various ship equipment, from the Captain’s command post to the deck itself with the crab pot and crew. This kinda concludes all the positives I have for the game. Sadly things quickly turn downhill when you actually start playing it.
To start the game is just uncomfortable to play. Movement is slow and janky, and menus are incredibly difficult to navigate. Often the right option is only mildly highlighted, making it hard to select items. Text is very small, especially on handheld, making reading uncomfortable. Some of the steps to catching the crab are very fiddly. The one I had the most trouble with was grabbing the crab pot again with a hook. The game only lets you stand in a set spot and throw the hook out. This often meant a lot of tedium trying to move the ship into the exact spot suitable to be able to grapple it.
The graphics are the typical bland realistic look seen in so many simulator-style games. No unique artistic merit, just boring, lifeless designs to the ship and crewmen who look dead-eyed, waiting for you to tell them what to do. The only stand-out feature is you will encounter a fair few crab species to catch in your pot. There is no music, just the ambience of the ocean, which isn’t very interesting.
Glitches and Motion Sickness
Then we come to the many glitches. Crewmen don’t always do what they are told, which isn’t helped by a management menu that feels overly complex. Crabs often just stay in the sorting pile even when you have clearly taken them off. The worst by far is every time I hit a storm, the ocean weirdly just rose above my ship and literally gave me motion sickness. Something that rarely happens to me in a video game. The storms, in general, are a big disappointment. They are poorly captured in the game for something featured so prominently in the show. In fact, the only indication you feel you’re in the storm is by hearing rain and waves.
Graphically you really would not think you are in one. I guess I’ll give the game some credit. It didn’t crash once during my time with it. All these issues amounted to an experience that was tough to play through and honestly left me just feeling depressed which is not really the idea when sitting down to enjoy a game.
Conclusion: No Need to Get Crabby
Buried beneath all of the issues I had with Deadliest Catch: The Game is actually something potentially good. It’s probably not helped that this title was released on multiple platforms at launch, and it’s likely this was a tiny development team just doing the best they could.
It just doesn’t feel ready for release, at least on Switch. With all of the issues ironed out, I would see this being a pretty good crab fishing game that would likely please its fan base and those just looking for another busybody title to pass the time till you need to go to your real job. But as it stands, it’s not something I can recommend, but I really enjoyed looking up the show online.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure